Experienced Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice Attorney

Spinal Cord Injury Lawyer Dealing with Trauma to the Back and Spine

Spinal cord injuries are life-altering. The physical, emotional and financial toll presented by spinal cord injuries is overwhelming. Some sobering statistics:

  • As many as 450,000 Americans live with a spinal cord injury
  • More than 80 percent of spinal cord injuries are in men between the ages of 16 and 30
  • According to estimates by the Mayo Clinic, nearly 11,000 Americans are victims of spinal cord injuries annually

Spinal cord injures can result in permanent or partial paralysis. People with spinal cord injuries may be left with an inability to use their arms and legs.

How These Catastrophic Spine Injuries Can Happen

Spinal cord injuries may result from:

Spinal cord injuries may result from a sudden traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates a vertebra, or result from the gradual build-up of pressure within the spinal canal. After the initial trauma, a cascade of biochemical and cellular events that kills neurons, strips axons of their myelin insulation and triggers an inflammatory immune system response follows, resulting in further damage.

Types of Injuries to the Spinal Cord

Spinal cord injuries result from trauma cutting into, pulling, compressing or pushing sideways the spinal cord. A severed spinal cord cannot be repaired. Spinal cord injuries are defined as follows:

  • Quadriplegia: A neck level injury causing loss of movement and sensation in all four limbs; breathing may be impaired
  • Paraplegia: An injury lower in the spine causing loss of movement and sensation or weakness in the lower half of the body
  • Hemiplegia: Loss of movement and sensation on one side of the body

A “complete” spinal cord injury means that the spinal cord has absolutely no function below the affected area. An “incomplete” or partial spinal cord injury means that the spinal cord has some function left below the affected area. In less severe cases, recovery will depend on the extent of the damage.

Symptoms of Spinal Cord Injuries

Symptoms of spinal cord damage frequently involve:

  • Limb paralysis
  • Tingling sensation
  • Numbness
  • Limb weakness
  • Foot drop
  • Inability to walk
  • Inability to use arms
  • Incontinence
  • Loss of bowel control
  • Emotional suffering

Actions to Take with Spinal Cord Injuries

Time is of the essence because the buildup of pressure within the spinal canal can cause permanent and irreversible neurological damage quickly. Following a myelogram, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a physician needs to take immediate steps to limit any further damage to the spine. Depending on the nature of the injury, this may include using corticosteroid drugs or surgery. Sometimes, physicians use metal plates or pins for spinal stabilization. Temporary disability may occur while healing occurs over many months. Permanent disability may be noted when functional improvements do not occur.

Unique Challenges of Spinal Cord Injury Lawsuits

Litigating cases involving spinal cord injuries present unique challenges. An attorney must be familiar with the physical and financial consequences of spinal cord injuries, including proving damages and maximizing recovery. At The Law Offices of Patrick J. Filan P.C., attorney Filan utilizes “day-in-the-life” scenarios to educate juries about the lifetime effect of spinal cord injuries. Attorney Filan also works with “life care planners” to outlay the lifetime costs of providing care to victims of spinal cord injuries.

  • Life care plans. Life care planners describe to the jury the future care needs of the injured person and the costs of that care. This includes projected therapies, education and development programs, medication, equipment and supply needs, assistive technology requirements, and architectural renovations required to make homes inhabitable following injury.
  • Economist expert witness. An economist expert witness will assess the injured party’s lost earnings and future medical and non-medical costs described and itemized in the life care plan. These two figures provide a basis for a monetary award by the jury.
  • Day in the life video. The goal of a day in the life video is to depict the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s family in their typical daily routine and demonstrate to a jury how difficult it is to get through the day when you are a paraplegic or quadriplegic.

Call to Speak with an Experienced Attorney in Spinal Cord Injury Cases

If you or a loved one has experienced a spine or back injury as a result of a trauma, do not hesitate to get them the medical help and the legal representation they need. Contact The Law Offices of Patrick J. Filan P.C. in White Plains online or by calling 203-349-8074 for a free consultation to discuss your situation.